The Greenhouse Delusion - Chapter 8: by Dr Vincent Gray

Extreme Events

(and A Note on Sources)

The earth’s climate has undergone enormous changes since the earth cooled to a temperature capable of supporting life, some 3½ billion years’ ago. Details of past changes are often difficult to characterise or measure, even after painstaking study of geological and ocean deposits. There have certainly been many changes in the past which greatly exceed human experience.

It is quite possible that changes in the concentration of even such a relatively unimportant greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide might have an influence on the climate, apart from its established influence on plant growth.  The belief in some sort of influence has led to efforts to dredge the world press for examples of "unusual" weather events, which are frequently attributed to carbon dioxide changes despite the ancient principle that a correlation, however convincing, does not establish a cause and effect relationship.

While it is possible to measure such things as gas concentrations or temperature, there is no satisfactory way of measuring the frequency of past hurricanes, floods, droughts, or snow or ice coverage. How much wind constitutes a hurricane? How dry is a drought? Where is the snow or ice boundary? It is therefore not possible to provide a fair comparison of current experience with the extent or importance of these calamities over the years. The damage or inconvenience of these events is a function of the size and complexity of the neighbouring human population. Insurance pay-outs must inevitably rise as there are more people with higher -valued property.

The IPCC (1) has expressed their level of confidence in the possible future increase of some of these unusual weather patterns by their estimated (for which read guestimated) likelihood levels, "based on expert judgement", but the data are shoddy, and the models used are, as usual, untested.   Many of these events are anecdotal rather than representative, and negative events are preferred to positive ones. There are even attempts to argue that better weather is harmful.  The whole of Climate Change 01: Impacts (2) is devoted to the proposition that almost everything is going to get worse. The basic assumption throughout, that future warming is inevitable, is behind most of the projections, and is, as has been pointed out in our Chapter 3, by no means an established fact. Lomborg (3) has shown what happens to the pessimistic forecasts when reliable statistics are scrutinised.


  1. Climate Change 01 Summary for Policymakers page 15.
  2. Climate Change 01 :Impacts
  3. Lomborg, B, 2001 "The Skeptical Environmentalist." Cambridge University Press.


Most of the references in this book are from the recently published Report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Some are from previous Reports from this committee, and some from the reports of Working Groups II and III. These Reports contain a comprehensive review of the scientific and economics literature dealing with the earth’s climate. Each Report was widely circulated for comment to expert reviewers all over the world, usually in several drafts. This author has been among the expert reviewers for every Report of Working Group I except the first one, and for several of the other reports as well. My comments on the first draft of the most recent Scientific Report amounted to 97 foolscap pages, and related to every Chapter. I claim to have comprehensive knowledge of these Reports, and particularly of their limitations.

The full designation of these Reports is as follows:

From Working Group I

Houghton J T , G J Jenkins and J J Ephraums (Editors) 1990 Climate Change : The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 90.

Houghton, J T, B A Callander and S K Varney (Editors) 1992, Climate Change 1992 : The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 92

Houghton, J T, L G Meira Filho, J Bruce, Hoesung Lee, B A Callander, E Haites, N Harris and K Maskell (Editors) 1995 Climate Change 1994: Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and An Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios. Cambridge University Press Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 94

Houghton, J T, L G Meira Filho, B A Callander, N Harris, A Kattenberg and K Maskell (Editors) 1996 Climate Change 1995 :The Science of Climate Change Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 95

Houghton, J T, Y Ding, D J Griggs, M Noguer, P.J van der Linden, X Dai, K Maskell, and C A Johnson (Editors) 2001. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Cambridge University Press Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 01

.From Working Group II

R.T. Watson, M.C. Zimyowera, R.H. Moss and D.J. Dokken (Editors) 1998. The Regional Impacts of Climate Change Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Regional Impacts 98

McCarthy, J J, O F Canziani, N A Leary, D J Dokken, and K S White (Editors). 2001, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability . Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Climate Change 01: Impacts.

From Working Group III

N Nakicenovic and R Swart (Editors) 2000 IPCC Special Report: Emissions Scenarios Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as IPCC Emissions Scenarios 00

Metz, B, Davidson, O, Swart, R, Pan, J (Editors), Climate Change 01 Mitigation. Cambridge University Press. Henceforth referred to as Cliamte Change 01: Mitigation

Climate Change 01, Climate Change 01 Impacts, Climate Change 01 Mitigation and IPCC Emissions Scenarios 00 are currently available in full at the IPCC website.

Climate Change 01 recommends that references should be to each Chapter and they should list all the authors of the Chapter. This has not been done here because of the large amount of space required.

Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis has voluminous references many of which have been consulted by this author. The volume itself is an indispensable source of information on current climate science. It is, however, seriously biased in its suppression and distortion of any critical material on the greenhouse effect and its consequences.

Part of this distortion and bias is achieved through the process of peer review. The scientists involved with the IPCC have been very successful in supplying most of the "peers" that review papers for publication, and in rejecting, or delaying indefinitely, any material critical of the greenhouse effect.

In addition, even when not deliberate, the peer review process can be very slow. Reviewers are not paid, so they are unlikely to rush with material they disapprove of, and they tend to speed up material that supports their opinions..

Another problem is the escalating costs of official scientific publications. This has reduced access on a colossal scale. Fewer libraries have fewer Journals, and they often restrict access. The cost of interloans has also increased dramatically. The scientists realise this and so try to publish in the more freely available journals.  Much of my material comes from Nature and Science which are widely available, and tend to publish any important developments.

The existence of the Internet has only partially alleviated the problem. Very few Journal Editors can afford to publish on the Internet for free.  Titles or abstracts may be free, but the full paper requires a subscription. In many cases the old fashioned methods of personal correspondence (made much easier by Email) and requests for reprints, have replaced increasingly difficult library consultations.

The Internet has provided two important facilities without which this book could never have been written.

The first is the free access to recent data. The US Government has been particularly generous in this regard. The following websites provide easy access to contemporary data on the climate, much faster than any Journal

The Carbon Dioxide Information and Advisory Center, Oakridge, Tennessee; particularly with their Trends facility

The Goddard Institute of Space Studies, This site can supply worldwide temperature records in graphical form.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Their most useful site is

Carbon Cycle Group

Satellite Temperature measurements

Sea Level Records

The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK,

Since it is virtually impossible to publish scientific material critical of the greenhouse effect in the established scientific journals, the Internet has provided the opportunity both for publication and scientific discussion which is denied us in the official press. the following websites specialise in such material

John Daly  `Still Waiting for the Greenhouse’   http://www/

CO2 Science.

The Greening Earth Society

Warwick Hughes

Science & Environment Policy Project

The Greening Earth Society.

There is a Yahoo discussion group of climate sceptics with the address

It is unfortunate that the Internet is ephemeral. There is no "archive" of material available, and sites are forever deleting material and changing their address. If the above addresses have changed, try a search engine.

A very valuable source of statistical information is Bjorn Lomborg The Skeptical Environmentalist 2001, Cambridge University Press.

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